After not really fulfilling his undoubted potential over 1400 metres last season, the drop back to sprinting could prove the key with Birchwood as the turf Flat season gets underway on Saturday night.
The Richard Fahey-trained Birchwood is entered in Saturday's Flat season curtain raiser, the Listed Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster, in what will be a first drop to 1200 metres since his early juvenile campaign.
The move looks a positive one as the Godolphin-owned colt failed to settle early in his races last season while showing plenty of early pace. After failing at Group level a first time visor saw him win back in Listed company at Chester but that was discarded after a disappointing run in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes. Birchwood's final two runs of the season were better including when finishing sixth to top sprinter Limato in the 1400m Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Chantilly.
A drop back to sprinting distances could see the son of Dark Angel fulfil the exciting ability he showed as a two-year-old. Three wins from seven runs that season included the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket but he was also a two length fifth to 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, third in the Group 1 Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and an excellent half-length third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. He didn't quite see out the mile there which eventually prompted last season's decision to drop back in trip and it is hoped this further step will yield more improvement on Saturday.